Re: SOC: Urban Sprawl

From: James Wetterau (
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 09:06:29 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" says:
> James Wetterau wrote:
> > Unfortunately, transit at present is a massively government-meddled
> > with field.
> City government is essentially a monopoly corporation created to keep the
> streets of the city safe, clean, and maintained. If people insist on living in
> cities, some sort of a monopoly corporation is considered to be required, though
> I imagine that there is the possibility that residents of a street or block
> could form a 'street association' or 'block association' which would have
> contractual agreements with neighboring associations to share the cost of
> maintaining the streets they share, though you may wind up with some wildly
> variable streets. Sort of like the 'adopt a highway' program writ large.

Where I grew up in Queens county, a borough of New York City, the
neighborhood block associations were quite active in taking care of
matters that government overlooked. Various "Business Improvement
Districts" throughout the city have sprung up in the last decade to
take on sanitation, security and other issues traditionally associated
with government but which the city did not deliver to their liking,
and they haven't yet shot unarmed civilians to death either. (The
Times Square BID is the most famous.) Central Park has been a lot
more pleasant since int eh hands of the Central Park Conservancy, a
public-private hybrid trust.

Private associations can work to help resolve these issues. There are
a lot of economies of scale available in city living that offer
excellent business opportunities in delivering services.

But no matter what, I can assure you that with the city income taxes I
paid in the last years I lived there (1997-1998) I more than paid my
fair share for services I received. Boy, did they ever sock it to me.

> Of course, a suburb association ringing a city could essentially lay seige to
> the city, blockading supplies to the city, and take control of the government of
> that city (just as eight blocks around one block could get together and lay
> seige to that block..)

I'm a little puzzled by this non sequitur, but what the hell ... As
long as no one in the city could afford to bribe any of the
surrounding districts to break the alliance. Unlikely. Cities are
often concentrations of both wealth and poverty. There's also the
advantage of a large population. Finally, many large cities have very
large waterfronts, and it's no coincidence. It would be *very* hard
to close down the entire NY City waterfront, though the city
government, through years of neglect, has done its best to pull off
that trick, giving all the business to neighboring cities in New


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